The hike to Half Dome was a great adventure. The day was spectacular and the photographic opportunities began almost immediately. We all woke up at 4:00 AM and hit the trail at 5:25 in the morning. Our group consisted of Glenn Sander (our fearless leader), Doug Harrold, Angie Briones, Debbie Perham, Penny Hunter and myself. Peter Hendrycks and Margie Maraist started with us (and provided great margaritas at the end!) but Peter was up and down Half Dome before we even got there.
The hike was 18 miles round trip with a 4100′ elevation gain. Our plan was to stay at a reasonable pace in order to make it to the top around lunchtime. It was hard, though, with all of the things to be photographed along the way. I brought a lot of equipment, including a monopod, camera body and two lenses. Glenn brought his brand new point-and-shoot and Debbie fired away with her cell phone. Also, as usual, the gang brought enough food to feed the entire population of Curry Village (or so it seemed).
The hike itself was no harder than any of our normal hikes. That is, until we got to Subdome (the bulge attached to Half Dome). Subdome is a tough climb and some people that I talked to said it was harder than Half Dome. The climb up Subdome is 400′ of fully exposed exfoliating granite and steps without railings or handholds. The granite surfaces required walking or crawling along the dome itself. At least Half Dome has cables to climb.
Everyone in the group made it to the top of Subdome which is an accomplishment in itself. Unfortunately, most of us got stopped there. There was a storm building and, after much discussion, we decided to head back down Subdome to see what the weather was going to do. After waiting a bit, the storm blew off and Glenn and Doug decided to go for it. My knee and ankle were starting to swell and I was pretty sure that I could make it up but not down.
Even without making it to the top, the entire experience was a great adventure. We became closer and supported each other and we had fun doing it. We ended the trip with a picnic beneath El Capitan and finished with our traditional margaritas.
The photographs, fun, friendship and camaraderie made it all worthwhile. What a great group of people! To quote our former governor “I’ll be back!”. I plan to go up Half Dome next summer and I hope the group will also.